Crosstown traffic: punk rock, space and the porosity of the Berlin wall in the 1980s

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Issue Date
2017-05
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Authors
Hayton, Jeffrey P.
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Citation

HAYTON, J. (2017). Crosstown Traffic: Punk Rock, Space and the Porosity of the Berlin Wall in the 1980s. Contemporary European History, 26(2), 353-377

Abstract

This paper argues that crosstown traffic in the East and West German punk subculture was an essential aspect of how popular music helped to challenge the political legitimacy of the East German government. West German punks frequently crossed the border to attend Eastern punk concerts, meet with friends and trade stories and experiences, connections that helped to foster a transnational community of alternative youths. These interactions denied official claims that punk was the result of capitalist decadence while undermining the East German government's efforts at cultivating a distinctive socialist identity. Nor were border crossings unidirectional, as Eastern punks made daring attempts to connect with their Western cousins. Writing for West German fanzines, appearing in the Western press and even managing to release Eastern recordings smuggled westwards, Eastern punks crossed the Iron Curtain and in so doing, worked to present an alternative vision of Eastern youth to the world and join the global punk scene.

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